Journal of the Department of Agriculture, Western Australia, Series 4


Ian Riley


Annual ryegrass toxicity, Lolium rigidum, Sampling

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Annual ryegrass (Lolium rigidumJ seedheads containing corynetoxins, a group of bacterially produced antibiotics, are poisonous to livestock. Animals that eat affected ryegrass develop annual ryegrass toxicity (ARGT), suffer convulsive staggers and die within a few days of eating a lethal dose. ARGT is characterised by high death rates, especially where pastures are not known to be affected and where stock-owners are not expecting the problem. Fortunately, there are commercial tests that determine the levels of ARGT organisms in the paddock and the risk of getting the disease. These tests will help farmers plan their cropping and pasture programs for the coming growing season. The results can also be used immediately to plan grazing over summer and autumn.